Zune phone and LTE 4G wireless broadband

, posted: 10-Feb-2007 16:35

Zune BrownThe gadget world is getting excited over the prospect of a Zune Phone (Phune? Zhone?) now that Microsoft has submitted an wireless device to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Will it be an iPhone competitor capable of cellular calls, or a VoIP product that's used for "talk over the Internet"?

Engadget Crunchgear and Marketwatch are getting het up seeing OFDM, or Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, mentioned, and reckon that's that, the Phune-Zhone will have 802.16e Mobile WiMAX built-in. That's entirely possible since Intel's plugging WiMAX hard at the moment, which in turn means cheap components. But, OFDM doesn't per se equal Mobile WiMAX or even wireless data transmission... it's used for ADSL too, as it's just a signal modulation scheme, albeit a rather clever one.

Furthermore, Mobile WiMAX isn't a carrier-favoured technology. Cell phone carriers don't much like Intel and would rather continue down the UMTS route. It's a known technology unlike Mobile WiMAX, handset OEMs know it and it's optimised for voice calls. A Mobile WiMAX Phune-Zhone would be hard for Microsoft to sell into carriers without solid proof that it works and is much cheaper in the long run to operate and support.

Flash-OFDM which Sprint is said to be trialling already is one possibility, but there's more exciting stuff coming up this year, including the Long Term Evolution or LTE technology that Ericsson intends to show off in Barcelona at the 3GSM World Congress expo there next week.

LTE, sometimes referred to as HSOPA or High-Speed OFDM Packet Access (crazy acronym!) is due to be released this year, and is capable of 144Mbit/s using 20MHz carriers. It seems Ericsson will demonstrate LTE in the 2.6GHz band to get that speed, but the technology looks reasonably flexible as it can accommodate channel widths all the way down to 1.25MHz. Paired and unpaired spectrum are both supported, and those cool MIMO (multiple-in, multiple-out) aerials provide that wideband performance boost.

Most importantly, LTE is a 3GPP standard, meaning it will see widespread adoption in the GSM world. If Microsoft has any sense it will look beyond US carriers when developing the Zhone-Phune, and aim to make it as global as possible.

Other related posts:
Nokia upgrades: Symbian Belle for the N8 and MeeGo PR1.2 Harmattan for N9
Yes, this iPod still works
Samsung Galaxy Tab so good Apple wants it banned?

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